Friday, January 27, 2017

Why Writing is Right For Me.

 Sometimes I get overwhelmed and depressed, and trying to find a way to connect with other people seems impossible.  Lately it has been like that again. The whole world seems to be off its axis, tilting more and more away from being centered.  The people in my life who often steady me, suddenly seem to need steadied themselves and I stop feeling like I can draw on their strength, I don't want to add to the burden of their lives.
 That is when I look for ways to replenish my strength from something bigger than me.  I am lucky, because I only have to step outside to find reminders that there are things much bigger and more eternal and more beautiful than the mind of man can comprehend.

 I go to the world looking for beauty, and it is all around me, in the ocean, and redwood tree, yes.  But also in the tiny banana slug, and the feather in the wind, and the child sifting through the sand for a sun kissed agate.

 Then when I have to return to my home, and my family and the news of the day, I can do so with a well of quiet strength inside me.  I can share that beauty and warmth with my family and friends and then quietly sit at the computer, dreaming in words that hopefully bring strength and warmth to a wider world.  Yes, I'm an introvert, and sometimes I can't think quickly enough to get the words right in a conversation, and when I can, that interaction exhausts me, even though I also love it.  I love teaching and being in a crowd, especially a crowd of children, but I get drained there, and for me, the quiet thoughtful times when it is just me and a blank page, are when my battery is being recharged.

 When I look at the books I like to read, there are often underlying themes of violence and danger, but when I choose what I want to give back to the world, I find the beauty and love and celebrate the differences that make us able to be stronger together than any one of us will ever be alone.  The first book I published turns five years old this year, and It still makes me happy that I put the energy into writing it. People who have also learned to love Duffy Barkley tell me that his story has shown them a lot about accepting differences and finding joy together.  That is why I write.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Redwood Tree

I am happy to announce the release of my third picture book for young children.  This one is non fiction but reads like a story as you share photographs of the beautiful and long lived giants of the Pacific Coast.

It is available on Amazon at the following link

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Reaching for the Redwoods

Once upon a time I began to live among Giants, ancient, long lived beings of another race entirely.

And then I began to photograph them and bring my friends and family to visit them and to rest in their shadow.
Many times I climbed upon their fallen and mourned a loss or stood astonished to discover a new life bursting forth from a fallen corpse.
My children and grandchildren became so accustomed to their size that only giants appeared nirmL in their eyes.  I still seek out their companionship when I grow weary and need peace. For awhile now I have not been writing much, but I'm back at it and sensing the completion of a picture book about redwoods happening in time for Christmas gifts.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Thank you to the 660 people who signed up for an opportunity to win an autographed copy of my most recent novel in The Tales of Uhrlin, Duffy Barkley: the Third Charm. The Goodreads Giveaway ended on 4/16/16 with three winners.

Mary from Maryland
Chelene from Ohio
Benoit from Quebec

It is gratifying to see so many people express an interest in one of my books, and while I wish I could give that many away, of course I can't. Still, I hope that some of you who did not win are intrigued enough to buy a copy, and if, like me, cash is too tight, I hope sometime in the future you remember my hero and his ability to have adventures and make friends in spite of what others would consider his handicapping condition. After having a chance to live without it for awhile, of course, Duffy now knows he isn't strong in spite of having cp, but he is strong and who he is, because of having cp. like Duffy, I have learned to embrace all the things that make me who I am, even those I fought against for years.

Again, thanks for your time and attention.

Joy and beauty to all of you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway for Third Book in Uhrlin

On February 5th, the third Duffy Barkley adventure in Uhrlin, Duffy Barkley: the Third Charm, was published. Now through April 16th it is being offered on Goodreads with a chance to win one of three autographed paperbacks.

If you are interested in the other books in the series, they are available on Amazon, or can be ordered by your local bookstore.
In Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog

Remember being with a group of friends where you felt safer and more included than you had ever felt at home, friends you had always wanted, who made you look around with a lump in your throat, wishing you could stop time? They were a lot like the groups in all the popular stories. They were the reason people love MASH, Harry Potter, Narnia, Friends, The Lord of the Rings etc. They were a group of imperfect, overwhelmed and harassed people who became winners because they didn't have to face the overwhelming odds, alone. Even in the face of dark wizards, popular girls, bad hair days or War, they had each other's back. When one of them had a weakness, another had a strength to balance it out. When one was a jerk, someone else saved the day, and forgave them eventually. Now times are turning more difficult again. The world needs that kind of support. We need a source of encouragement so that we can find a way to be that kind of support when we are needed. As times are dark, people look for a reason to laugh, love and hope again. Duffy Barkley is not a dog, a middle grade fantasy, gives you those friends, that escape, that voice of hope in the darkness. Duffy is alone, handicapped, desperate. He is picked-on, lost, & yet, never defeated. In the most alien of places he finds friends. In the most dire of emergencies he finds courage. In the most evil of villains he finds compassion and a solution. In giving away what he most needs, he gains everything. Duffy, a 9 year old boy with cerebral palsy, survives tragedy in the form of a school shooting in which his younger sister is seriously injured. Falling into a new world, he regains his health but finds himself the focus of historic prophecy. While trying to deny his place in their prophecies he discovers his own abilities & changes his life & that of others in both worlds. He enjoys being physically strong but must give it up to save the villain, and find his way back to save his sister, Izzy.

and in Book 2, Duffy Barkley: Seek Well

Duffy Barkley, The protagonist of Duffy Barkley Is Not a Dog, has returned in the sequel, Duffy Barkley: Seek Well.  Now 11 years old, he cannot remember the events that happened the first time that he was in Uhrlin, or a time when his Cerebral palsy was cured, or when he flew.  But those memories are breaking through and Uhrlin remembers him and is calling him back.  He can't remember why he is fascinated by Guatemala, or anything about a giant, bald, orca colored mer-woman with the voice of an angel.  But he has to seek her.

and now, Book 3, Duffy Barkley: the Third Charm

In this third tale of Duffy Barkley's connection with the portal world of Uhrlin we see that he has twice had to face overwhelming odds, but his friends were there to help even those odds. It wasn't easy but he struggled and prevailed, both at age 9 and 11. He saved his little sister and the two worlds while making new friends and learning to love himself, handicaps and all. Why then, this time, does he seem to have been left behind? Where are his sister and his great-aunt now?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Camp NaNo and Trying for Lucky 7 while marketing my 6th book

On February 5th, the third Duffy Barkley adventure in Uhrlin, Duffy Barkley: the Third Charm, was published. Now it is being offered on Goodreads with a chance to win one of three autographed paperbacks.

If you are interested in the other books in the series, they are available on Amazon, or can be ordered by your local bookstore.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

21st Annual Gold Beach Writer's Conference

Now that my children are grown, and Holidays are more about their homes than mine, my favorite holiday has switched and become one I indulge in purely for me.  It is always President's Day weekend, which usually coincides with Valentine's Day, but it isn't because of either of those that I love it.  Valentine's is great, but Ive been with my husband since 1982, and he loves me every day, and he is a music teacher who is often off delivering "Valen-tunes" with his choir students, or like last year, traveling to a music festival with them.

So, No.  I love this weekend because it is about WRITING.  Just an hour north of my home is a lovely, but very tiny town nestled right on the beach, and they host the South Coast Writer's Conference and have for 21 years now.

Sometimes the beach is very different from year to year, storms move the sand and logs a lot, but it is beautiful under the sun or in a storm.  This year, I got lucky.  Just outside my motel room, a mere block from the fairgrounds where the conference began, was a deliciously warm beach filled with drifts of seafoam.

and this year, I had just published the third book in my Duffy Barkley series only 9 days before, so I had a lot to share at the conference.  There is the coolest bookstore there in town too, huge and friendly and besides books, filled with local art and a yummy bakery.

Peter Brown Hoffmeister, author of The Intentional Art of Failure

 The Friday offers longer, more in depth classes and then an evening with a keynote speaker and shorter speeches from all the presenters.  Saturday gives us two classes in the morning, two more in the evening, then book sales, and finally a writer's critique circle.  I was lucky enough to get to meet some people in person from a facebook writers group based 90 miles south of me. Previously I had only interacted with them on-line.

Anne Osterlund presenting "Sweat The Small Stuff"

Anne says, "92% of submissions are full of grammar and spelling mistakes - so if you are not doing that you are already in the top 8%."

it was fun to see that the pile of my books for sale at the bookstore was a lot smaller than the last time I dropped in.

Heidi Schulz, author of Hook's Revenge

 Heidi write middle grade humor and has a really good sense of her audience and a word of caution.  "Surprise and an exchange of power are the keys to humor. Be careful of the kind of humor that takes power from the powerless.  It can be an act of bravery to not laugh when everyone else is."  Punch up, not at those smaller than you.  Humor ca engender sympathy. We laugh with Groot and Rocket and then later we care about them.  Her best piece of writing advice, "be brave."

thinking back at all the solid advice I got, the simplest, easiest stuff was the best to remember.

Jason Brick said, "The jerk trying to force you to buy a used car is not a salesman. Being so loudly geeky about something you love that you make other people love it too.  That's sales."  

My friend and fellow author R. R. Virdi is a master , plus I honestly love his book, Grave Beginnings.

Jason also had concrete sales advice, "have facebook and 1 more social media place you interact.  3 times a day, share something awesome and share somebody else, because nobody cares about you but they start caring about you when you start talking about them. Then comment intelligently or at least hilariously on at least one thread, ask a question or pick a fight.  Post at least 21 times a week, but only mention a blog post and your book 1 time each week, unless you are doing a special promo."